What Your Handwriting Says About Your Health
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What Your Handwriting Says About Your Health

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November 24, 2010, Last Updated June 2, 2015

By LOUISE CARR, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

 





Handwriting is a dying art. When was the last time you switched off the computer and wrote a letter? Or stopped texting to pen a memo? If the grocery list is the only handwritten piece of work you produce, you could be missing vital clues to the state of your health. Graphology is the study of handwriting to reveal personality traits. Did you know the unique way you write can reveal not only your personality but your state of health?


A 1999 research study from the University of Plymouth, England looked at graphology for health purposes and found it was a useful tool for catching health conditions before they become too serious.

Researchers identified stress in individuals by looking at their handwriting, as well as levels of energy, willpower and vitality and, on the negative side, depression and lack of confidence - all of which can contribute to your overall state of mental and physical health.

Handwriting can send you a personal message about your health, but can you read it?


One of the most famous handwriting experts who made a link between health and pen strokes was Professor Kanfer, an Austrian born in 1902. He worked closely with the American Cancer Society to look at the early detection of cancer through handwriting analysis, demonstrating an 84 percent success rate.


Scientists believe handwriting traces disturbances in neuromuscular coordination and the minute characteristics in handwriting are a message from the brain, which often "knows" about a health condition before it is fully revealed.


What are the marks and styles to look out for? How can you interpret your handwriting, and that of your loved ones, to provide an insight into your health? Many conditions show up in the way you press down on the paper, and how you form your a, b and c's.

Cracking the code provides a useful tool for deciding on therapies and treatments. However, it's important not to over-analyze yours or others handwriting - this is an exact science and it often needs an expert to interpret the strokes.


Here are 10 of the clues to your health found in your handwriting:

 















1. What Does Slow Or Poor Handwriting Say About a Child's Health?

Does your child struggle with handwriting, no matter how much effort they put into forming the letters? Poor handwriting in young children may be a sign of autism.

Autistic children suffer from motor skill problems which affect the way they hold a pen or pencil and write.

Slow handwriting may also be a sign of autism. A 2009 study from the Motion Analysis Laboratory at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore found the handwriting problems that children with autism suffer from are serious enough to persist into adolescence but can be overcome.

Teenagers with autism scored an average of 167 out of 204 points on a scale measuring legibility, form, alignment, size and spacing in handwriting samples, compared with 183 out of 204 for non-autism sufferers.

The most significant difference was in the ability to form letters. The researchers identified fine motor control as the source of handwriting problems and suggested techniques for stabilizing the handwriting including adjusting the pencil grip or using the second hand as support.

Another condition associated with slow and very messy handwriting in children is dyspraxia. According to 2008 research from the University of London and Oxford Brookes University, UK around five percent of children in the UK suffer from dyspraxia, or developmental coordination disorder.

Researchers developed coordination and handwriting tests to better focus on teenagers who need extra help with writing, such as the use of a computer or added time in exams. People who suffer from dyslexia may also have poor or illegible handwriting.

2. Resting Dots and Heart Disease

Could handwriting really reveal early signs of heart disease? That's what researchers from Wiltshire, UK aimed to discover in a 2010 study. When we write, we often rest our pen - only for milliseconds, but these "resting dots" could signal heart trouble.

Lead researcher Christina Strang compared handwriting samples from 61 cardiac patients with samples from healthy people. There were twice as many "resting dots" among the cardiac patients.

These slight interruptions in the pattern of writing are particularly evident in letters with loops. A person with heart problems, researchers say, instinctively rests the pen on paper as he would rest on a cane while walking.

3. What Does Illegible Handwriting Mean?

While handwriting that simply can't be read is often the sign of a rushed life or disorganization, it may sometimes signify schizophrenia.

Many researchers believe that handwriting can reveal the psychological state of a person and schizophrenia shows up in the way the person forms letters.

Common characteristics of handwriting in a schizophrenic patient include unusual letter formations, script that's impossible to decipher, slants that stray in different directions and missing letters and syllables.

One 1999 study from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich looked at hand-motor performance in schizophrenia patients and found significant impairments in repetitive hand movements - the type of movement used for handwriting, or drawing concentric circles - and concluded that schizophrenics suffered abnormal hand-motor performance.

Certain medications for schizophrenia can also affect handwriting.  (Read more about foods that fight schizophrenia.)

4. Can Handwriting Warn of Other Mental Health Problems?

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